Q:What’s the normal color of breastfeeding baby’s bowel movement?
A:That depends on how old your baby is. In the first few days of life, your baby’s stool should be dark green to black. This means your baby is passing meconium, a tarry substance made up of all her bowels have accumulated during nine months in the womb.
Colostrum, the “first milk,” helps your baby pass these stools. The sooner you put your baby to the breast, the quicker colostrum gets into her system. Colostrum acts like a laxative and helps push the meconium out of your baby’s bowels.
Your baby will have these stools until your milk comes in — so the sooner and more frequently you breastfeed, the quicker the meconium clears from her system.
Since meconium buildup can cause jaundice, it’s important to breastfeed at least ten to 12 times in 24 hours to clear it out of your baby’s system. You should be concerned if your baby has meconium stools for longer than three days. If your baby sleeps a lot, you should pump and hand- or finger-feed the colostrum to your baby to get her digestive tract working properly.
After the colostrum phase, your milk changes and bowel movements become brown in color, less sticky, and easier to wipe off the skin. As your milk becomes more plentiful, the stools finally transition from yellow-green to yellow. Nursing your baby frequently causes the stools to change color more quickly. Plus, the more you nurse, the quicker your milk changes from colostrum to mature milk. Once the stools turn yellow and have a seedy quality, they should stay that way as long as your baby is exclusively breastfed.
When your baby has a bowel movement, look for stools that are loose in texture, with the consistency of pea soup. You may even notice small cottage cheese-type curds. The odor should be mild and not unpleasant. If you notice a succession of watery green stools, your baby may be consuming more foremilk than hindmilk. If you make sure she finishes nursing on the first breast before switching, she’ll get more of the high-calorie hindmilk and produce a more yellowish stool as a result.
A watery stool also could indicate a sensitivity to a certain food you’re eating or medication you’re taking. A good first step for determining whether that’s the case is to eliminate all dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt from your diet for at least three weeks. If the bowel movements change, you’ll know it was the dairy. Add dairy back slowly to your diet, starting with the hardest cheeses. If your baby’s stools turn watery again, you’ll have to find other sources of calcium and protein for your diet.